Language and Identity
General Catalog Course Title:
Freshman Seminars
Terms Offered:
Spring 2014
Course Thread: 
Cultural Forms in Transit
Course Thread: 
Visible Language
Kramsch, Claire

 This seminar will examine the works of authors for whom the questions of language and cultural identity have played a key role in the development of their distinctive voices. We will read two literary autobiographies of authors who write in a language that is not their native language: Elias Canetti's The Tongue Set Free (Bulgarian writing in German) and Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation (Pole writing in English) and one autobiography by American teacher of French Alice Kaplan writing in English: French Lessons. We will also read selections from such bilingual authors as J.P Sartre, N.Sarraute, Jacques Derrida, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, A. Kilito, and Nancy Huston, who view language as an act of identity and writing as giving voice to that identity. Through close textual analysis, we will examine the writer's use of language within the text, placing that analysis within the social, political, and cultural forces that have shaped the author's linguistic choices. Students will write their own autobiographical narratives, using English or languages other than English, or a combination of their native and non-native languages. All readings will be in English, or English translation.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.